Globetronics: R&D collaboration yields little result

GEORGE TOWN: The research and development (R&D) collaboration between local universities and the semiconductor and electronic industry in Malaysia has not been productive so far, according to Globetronics Technology Bhd chief executive officer Heng Huck Lee.

He claimed the R&D environment in the country did not motivate the professors and lecturers to take part in the collaboration between universities and the industry.

“The local professors and lecturers are too caught up in their own research work and do not want to bound by the deadline and the expected outcome of the university and industry collaboration.

“They rather rely on the research grants given by the government which has less stringent demands and guidelines,” he claimed.

As a result, he claimed most of the R&D projects of local universities failed to find the necessary funds to commercialise their products. “These projects remain confined within the universities. The industry, as a result, has to initiate their own R&D activities, unable to tap into the brains of the universities,” Heng told StarBiz yesterday.

Heng spoke at the sidelines of the Industry Collaborative Semiconductor Research Accomplishments & Future Directions talk organised by Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida).

Also present were Mida deputy chief executive officer Datuk Phang Ah Tong, Semiconductor Research Corp (SRC) president and chief executive officer Larry W Sumney, and SRC executive vice-president Steven J Hillenius.

On collaborative research between unversities and the industry, Sumney said the industry must always play the leading role in the collaboration.

“SRC has the expertise to share with the government and the local semiconductor and electronic industries,” he said.

Sumney said Malaysian semiconductor and electronic industries could leverage on their experience to tap into fresh business opportunities in new high-technology growth areas such as the internet of things (IOT), cyber-security, and semiconductor synthetic biology.

He said in the IOT, sensors could be developed for monitoring traffic flow in highways, public utilities, and in medical implants.

“There is also the area of cyber-security.

“Semiconductor companies nowadays are worried about supplying secured chips that are not corrupt and are reliable for data management.There are many interesting ways to do that, and this can be a research topic for universities,” Sumney said.

Meanwhile, Hillenius said another area that could be pursued was semiconductor synthetic biology. “This relates to making devices with biological elements that enable them to measure biological responses and interact with the environment. Another area is to look at the way biological organism materials function architecturally,” he said.